Lake Hartwell, the site of the 2008 Bassmaster Classic, and the surrounding area may be getting some significant upgrades for recreational anglers. That is if anglers are willing to take a quick survey and tell the Lake Hartwell Natural Resource Trustees that recreational fishing is important.
In May 2006, a federal court issued a consent decree for natural resource injuries sustained from PCB contamination of Lake Hartwell and Twelve-Mile Creek, a tributary of the lake. The settlement includes a significant monetary award to the Trustees to address some of the problems caused by the contamination. The ecological injury is being addressed by removal of two dams on Twelve-Mile Creek that do not allow for the passage of sediments containing PCB's. The creek will also undergo some significant habitat enhancements, along with biological monitoring. The remaining funds are to be allocated to offset the injuries to the recreational fishery of the lake.
A relatively small, but vocal, group of people are advocating for removal of the third dam on Twelve-Mile Creek. Why wasn't this dam included with the removal of the other two? For one, it's expensive, requiring $5-8 million to be removed, but most importantly, it doesn't need to be. It is the uppermost dam in the system, impounding only about 10 percent of the sediments in the watershed. The kicker is that this dam has a mechanism to pass the sediments, whereas the other two dams do not. Apparently, it just hasn't been used as frequently as it should. Removing the dam won't change the ability to pass the sediments. It is just an exceptionally expensive way to change the mechanism for how sediment is passed.
The trustees are currently conducting a survey to determine the best use of the remaining funds. Dam removal proponents are encouraging their members to check "Don't Support" on all the items in Question #1, which would prevent any funds from being spent on recreational fishing enhancements. Obviously, anglers need to respond "Strongly Support" for the items in Question #1.
Whether you are a regular angler on Lake Hartwell or periodically take trips to enjoy the fishing the lake and surrounding area has to offer, you are encouraged to visit the survey link, answer a few questions and help keep recreational fishing a top priority on Lake Hartwell.